Thermodynamics of RNA structures by Wang-Landau sampling

F. Lou, P. Clote
2010 Bioinformatics  
Motivation: Thermodynamics-based dynamic programming RNA secondary structure algorithms have been of immense importance in molecular biology, where applications range from the detection of novel selenoproteins using expressed sequence tag (EST) data, to the determination of microRNA genes and their targets. Dynamic programming algorithms have been developed to compute the minimum free energy secondary structure and partition function of a given RNA sequence, the minimum free-energy and
more » ... function for the hybridization of two RNA molecules, etc. However, the applicability of dynamic programming methods depends on disallowing certain types of interactions (pseudoknots, zig-zags, etc.), as their inclusion renders structure prediction an nondeterministic polynomial time (NP)-complete problem. Nevertheless, such interactions have been observed in X-ray structures. Results: A non-Boltzmannian Monte Carlo algorithm was designed by Wang and Landau to estimate the density of states for complex systems, such as the Ising model, that exhibit a phase transition. In this article, we apply the Wang-Landau (WL) method to compute the density of states for secondary structures of a given RNA sequence, and for hybridizations of two RNA sequences. Our method is shown to be much faster than existent software, such as RNAsubopt. From density of states, we compute the partition function over all secondary structures and over all pseudoknot-free hybridizations. The advantage of the WL method is that by adding a function to evaluate the free energy of arbitary pseudoknotted structures and of arbitrary hybridizations, we can estimate thermodynamic parameters for situations known to be NP-complete. This extension to pseudoknots will be made in the sequel to this article; in contrast, the current article describes the WL algorithm applied to pseudoknotfree secondary structures and hybridizations. Availability: The WL RNA hybridization web server is under construction at
doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/btq218 pmid:20529917 pmcid:PMC2881402 fatcat:l53fntfurnhmti4raprveb6m7m